- Cycling News
November 12, 2008, 0:00 GMT,
April 22, 2009, 20:08 BST
Hi all, Last time I touched base with you I had just finished the Tour of Ireland and was back in...
November 1, 2008
Last time I touched base with you I had just finished the Tour of Ireland and was back in Belgium for another month and a couple of kermis races before heading home. The races in Belgium went okay with a couple of strong/consistent results at Zwevegem and Vichte. The other couple ended in bunch sprints and I did not fare as well in those.
It was good to catch up with Rhys Pollock, who was over from his base in Holland doing a couple of races and to have a bit of moral support when some 'questionable' Belgium stars huffed and puffed. I have to take this opportunity to thank Gil and Rudi for giving me a couple of lifts to these races.
Apart from doing these races, training and spending time with Cally, it was also a time to be looking for a team for the coming season. Last time we spoke I had a couple of positive responses from a couple of teams, but they have all fallen flat. Through one of my teammates I found myself an agent to help me out and he is currently still working away for me. Times are indeed tough.
To make matters worse, my old team boss at Pezula was at his tyrannical best and basically being difficult. The silver lining to this cloud was an e-mail from an old friend of mine, Jeremy Betts, manager of the newly formed Budget Forklifts Team. He was looking for a rider for the Herald Sun Tour and some other races here in Australia over the summer, and had heard about my troubles throughout the year so gave me a go.
I received a contractual release from Pezula with the help of the Team Manager Brian O'Loughlin, dropped my bike off at the Irish Federation House in Belgium, kissed Cally good-bye for now and headed home. Upon my arrival home a brand new Look bike was waiting for me from Budget Forklifts and I quickly put it together so I could get a few rides on it before the tour.
I arrived in Tralagon for the Sun Tour a little later than I had planned and I received the last-minute confirmation of my ride with the Budget Forklifts Team from the International Cycling Union (UCI). It was a close call, and a big thanks to Jeremy, Tim Leunig for all the late night phone calls to the UCI in Switzerland and a late night dash into Melbourne to a courier service to ensure my ride. It wouldn't be a bike race without a bit of stress.
The Herald Sun Tour was good fun. It was good to be back in a team environment. It was I, Cameron Hughes, Peter Milostic, Jack Anderson, Michael England, Malcolm Rudolph and Pete Ladd in the 'Sunny' team. Supporting us along the way was Jeremy Betts as manager, Tim Leunig (Team Owner/Sponsor), Darryl Griffiths (Shotz owner/sponsor), Michael, Julie and Owen Uebel, Anthony Kellen and young Katie Uebel.
The first couple of stages were in Tralagon and it was on the road to Inverloch. As a team we felt we rode well and we were trying to get into as many moves/splits as possible as they were forming. I felt that I had a good day the first day by making a split, getting away in a small break on the way to the first KOM and then helping Malcolm in the sprint. Like the day before, he had another respectable sprint coming across the line in 11th after his eighth place the day before.
The day to Warragul was quick all day and the strong riders rose to the top of the bunch getting away from the field in the last 25 kilometres. Was a tougher day for me than planned puncturing 30 kilometres to go, just as the race was starting to heat up. I felt like it took forever to rejoin the bunch. It took a while to get back, but over the rolling hills, to my relief, I rejoined.
Stuart O'Grady showed his strength and won the stage by breaking away from the group in the closing kilometres. The stage to Marysville was certainly the toughest day so far. I was dropped and rode in with a small group. Once again, we all made it through the day.
After the disappointment of yesterday, we wanted to make amends on the road to Mt Buller. The plan was to get away in an early break and try to build as much of a lead as possible before we reached the hill as I was only six minutes down at the time. That part of the plan worked. After only a handful of kilometres, I was away in a group of nine and building a lead. By the time we reached the bottom of Buller, we had a lead of four minutes.
The lead group was reduced to five – Jongeward, McCartney, Kemp, Furmston and me. It was impressive to watch Jongeward clip away and hang onto the win. As for me, well, I was caught about halfway up and hung on for a little bit, but ended up riding in the last five kilometres with a small group and finished some minutes down. Michael England had a good day to only loose two minutes on the top riders in the front group. It was pretty impressive for someone who is in his first year full-time road cycling after a career in Triathlon. Once again the team all made it through the day.
I made it through the time trial the following day and I did the same in the criterium around Lygon Street. It wasn't without a bit of drama as I laid it over on one of the corners. I really don't know what happened, but I got a lap out and I gave a few other lads a lap out as well. I rejoined the bunch and I managed to move up a couple of spots in classification to end the tour in 29th.
Most of the team finished the criterium and the tour, albeit some of the younger guys, who found the going to be tough. It was great for the race for Stuart O'Grady, who pulled off the overall win. His win should cement the race's reputation as a growing, important event on the international cycling calendar.
I packed everything up and headed to a dinner put on by Tim Leunig down in St Kilda. It was a great dinner and I got to know Leunig a little more. I had already received a chance to get to know him a little up in Mt Buller at the Tour dinner for sponsors and team owners/managers. He is a straight talking guy with a passion for sport and a growing passion for the sport of cycling. It was great to hear that he was happy with how the week went for the team and happy with the positive exposure that he had garnered during the week.
If you are happy mate then we are too. Thanks for your support.
If there was one thing that we learnt from the week it was this timely quote that we picked up at Yarragon. "Don't' boil your kettle next to the bathroom mirror." Let that be a lesson to you all.
Until next time we meet,
- Cycling News
November 07, 2008, 0:00 GMT,
April 21, 2009, 11:59 BST
Hi all, After the Sun Tour returned home for a couple of days before turning straight around again...
November 8, 2008
After the Sun Tour returned home for a couple of days before turning straight around again to head back down to Melbourne for the "Warrny", one of Australia's most prestigious road races. It was the last big serious race for the Budget Forklifts team for the 2008 season so we were going to give it a good go. Giving us a bit of extra incentive was that it was sponsored by one of our sponsors in the shape of Shotz Sports Nutrition.
So all arrived and met up with the Bendigo lads in Peter Ladd, Kristian House and Tom Southam, with Peter Milostic arriving a little later. Hughesy's bike broke in transit thanks to some overzealous baggage handlers so we waited around a little longer whilst he got the spare bike ready and headed out for a gentle roll. All was set for a good day tomorrow.
It was an early start...up at 5:00 to have breakfast and get to the race on time. Arrived and set about getting ready and received our instructions from Jez. We made sure our food bags were ready and that we knew who was going to feed us. Race started with a gentle eight-kilometre neutral section around Sanctuary Lakes.
After the flag was dropped Peter Ladd ended in the early break and was riding well, picking up a few sprints and a bit of coin along the way. After the first feed a couple of strong groups began to form off the front. Eventually, all groups in the front formed and we had five riders up there with House, Southam, Ladd, England and myself. But there was a strong chase behind and our lead quickly came down.
Prior to second feed another group with Hughesy jumped clear and shortly after I went off in pursuit of Dempster and brought a couple along with me. Soon there was a group of 10 chasing the front group and after 170km or so the two groups formed and set about solidifying its lead. Kristian House and Richard England tried to come across and it got as close as 20secs. It provided Hughesy and myself a chance to sit on for a bit and wait to see if Kristian joined. However after a long chase we heard that they had sat up and began to work again with the group.
Coming into Camperdown with 70km to go Pell attacked and I thought 'why not?' Legs and brain were telling me no, but my heart said let's give it a go. Through another chaotic feed and our lead continued to grow. We were away for about 20km before the chase behind led by the Hiltz and Johnny caught us back. It was a smaller group by then though with 13 riders out front. The counter attacks started to flow.
A truce was called coming into the final feed to ensure we all grabbed our grub and then it all started again. Hughesy was great, always attacking and trying to get away but with 25km after following another counter I got away in a group of six along with Clarke, Pell, Dempster, Munroe and Newell. We all worked well, then with five kilometres to go started to try our luck attacking. Everybody in the group had a go but we were all quickly covered.
With the quick boys like Dempster and Clarke covering everything it looked destined to be a group sprint and I thought I still could have a chance. Sprinters aren't necessarily sprinters after 300km. However, they all got the jump on me when the sprint started and although I was coming back at them towards the end, it was not to be. Dempster took a fine win, ahead of Clarke and Pell, with yours truly in fourth. To top things off Hughesy was ninth, Mick England was 19th and I somehow finished second in the sprint classification and we were second in the teams classification behind the VIS.
Thanks to Darryl at Shotz Sports Nutrition for sponsoring the event; Jez, for all you work mate, and the three feed zone guys during the day. Much appreciated.
It was certainly a good way to finish the serious part of the year. There are a couple of small things left, including the Noosa Crit this weekend, Nick Gates Foundation Criterium in Townsville and of course the Rockhampton Cup on Wheels on the 12th and 13th of December before the coming season.
Still unsure about definite plans for the coming year. But, I am happy at the moment, so that must count for something.
Til next time we meet.
Thanks go to:
- Cycling News
September 18, 2008, 0:00 BST,
April 22, 2009, 20:08 BST
Hi all. So the 2008 Failte Tour of Ireland has been run and won again. It also spelled the end of...
September 19 , 2008
Hi all. So the 2008 Failte Tour of Ireland has been run and won again. It also spelled the end of PEZULA Racing as this was the teams last team race. So how did things go? Did we go out with a bang?
Stage 1 Dublin – Waterford "Give me a C, give me an I, give me an A"
No taking it easy for the first stage of the 2008 Tour of Ireland with a 196km jaunt down to CiaranPowerville in Waterford. The big fella was up for a good day just the rest of us and to show everybody that despite all the troubles we have been through and continue to go through, that we are a good team once we are allowed to do what we do. So after signing on and saying a few hello's to a couple of people (apparently Jack Watson's a fan), "hey Jack, hope all is well mate", and we were off.
Was a gentle start until a flurry of attacks and Martin got away in a good group. They built up a good lead on the flatter first 100km before the hills came in in the last 90km or so. Martin is a big strong rider and loves it on the flat and the track but the hills were to be his undoing today. He got popped on Mt Leinster and caught him soon after. Certainly good to get one up the road. The race was being controlled by Team Columbia and they were gradually winding it up to bring it all back for Cavendish in the sprint.
Up and over the last classified KOM at Inistigoe and the profile said it was all flat but thanks to Ciaran for a bit of info as there were at least 5 more little rollers that really stretched the bunch out and almost brought Team Columbia's plan undone as Cavendish was dropped a number of times. But showing what a class rider he is he came back each time and trounced them all in a 60 rider sprint in Waterford. Ciaran unfortunately was feeling a bit rough as well and after taking him to the front in the last 2km he managed 19th with me rolling across the line in 21st. We were the only 2 in the front group but would have been 3 if Frederik hadn't punctured at a crucial time. Never mind, all the lads rolled in in time and we rolled out to Clonmel to spend the night.
Stage 2 Thurles – Louhgrea "When Dave met Dave"
Off to Thurles in the morning and the spiritual home of Hurling in Ireland. Once again we were all interested in getting away early and this time Frederik, who put his untimely puncture behind him from the day before got up the road and nobody went along for the ride. Probably best for them as Fred put in quite an effort out there. For those who don't know him he is Swedish TT champ this year and actually put Gustaf Eric Larsson away at the champs (2nd in the Olympics). So he has a bit of pedigree about him. Wasn't long before he built up a lead I think approaching 6min and made a few teams sweat.
For us back in the bunch we were pretty much untroubled and only had to worry about the state of the roads. They were terrible today. Small, narrow, bumpy, gravel, wet and the famous stretch of Irish grass down the middle of the road. Good for cricket but not for bike racing. Something to give us a smile though was the meeting of the Two Dave's (O'Loughlin and Millar) about 60km from home. Nothing like a couple of comments in a cyclingweekly article by Dave O'loughlin to incur Millars wrath and he came up and put it to him. I think Millar was a little taken a back by Dolly's bluntness and "matter of fact" style answer and he rode off mumbling something to himself. It gave Ciaran, Martin and Kieren all a bit of a laugh as we rode behind them watching it all unfold. We had your back Dolly.
Into the last 20km and the crazy roads got a little worse for the 15km local lap. Fred got caught some 10km from home after crossing the finish line and getting some more points and air time from that crazy American commentator. Dodge 2 crashes but with a kilometre to go after moving up to avoid a split and did not avoid the 3rd crash and came to rest in the dirt by a wall alongside the grey lake. If there is a crash, trust me to find it. Ciaran had a good day to get 10th in the sprint. The fight behind the toilets near the bike rack did not eventuate.
Stage 3 Ballinrobe – Galway "The Quiet Man"
Home stage in a way for me today. For most of the year I was living on the shores of Lough Cara some 15km away and with that all the roads that were ridden on today I had ventured out onto at least once during my stay. So once again I was motivated to get away and have a good day but even more motivated was Dave as today's stage was set to thunder through his home town of Cong after 10km or so. And for all those John Wayne fans out there, Cong, apart from being the home town of Dave was also the set for one of his films, "The Quiet Man".
Headed out of Cong and onto Clonbur and everyone from the team was having a sniff. I made it into a good move with Kristian House, a Rabo rider and a Top Sport Vlaanderen jonge that I thought was going to stick but was brought back before Kieren had a go with another jonge and off they went up and over the KOM at Finney and into a lead.
Headed along up to Westport, pass the mythical Kroagh Patrick through to Louisbourgh and onto one of the most scenic roads in Ireland to Leenaun. Kieren was still plugging away up front and had lost the TopSport rider who dropped back to the bunch. Kieren was finally caught going up the 2nd last KOM and racing at the head of the bunch was on once again.
A strong attack from Daniel Lloyd and Simon Clarke followed and they built a lead of 3min as the race headed back to Galway. Up the final KOM of the day and was positioned well along with Ciaran and got over the top in the front and to watch about a dozen guys slip and fall on this gentle, albeit wet left hander. Ciaran came down as well but was quickly back up and back into contention. Lloydy up front hit the deck as well leaving Simon Clarke up there alone and was brought back with about 15km remaining.
I had a dig alone and was away for 5km before being caught and there were a number of other moves but were all doomed by the strength of Team Columbia. Fred helped get Ciaran up into a good position and after another good sprint came in 7th while everybody else finished safely. So once again, PEZULA Racing riders were up the road and getting plenty of publicity for its buck.
Stage 4 Limerick – Dingle "A Downing in Dingle"
Was once again and very active start with everyone having a go. Got away a number of times like everybody else I guess and thought it stuck once when I was away with Ciaran and 3 others but alas no. A group of 3 did get away with before Tralee and built a good lead. The race today and possibly the tour was going to be decided on and over Connor's Pass on the way to Dingle.
Was initially feeling good and in good position on Connor's Pass but got shuffled back a little. It wasn't particularly fast due to the headwind but it did wind up in the last kilometre on the climb and found myself at the wrong end when riders began to drop the wheels. Made a big effort to get up but fell short by 10-20 secs at the top but with a group containing Cavendish, some Rabo riders and Ciaran I thought it was all going to be ok and that we would get back on after a good chase.
Alas we did not get back. In hindsight Ciaran and myself depended on the strength of the others in the group and initially did not contribute to the chase, just like many others. Maybe if we did get stuck in we would have returned...maybe not. Fred however was up the front and riding strong and placed well at the finish. Overcame a tricky front wheel puncture down the steep, last KOM and rejoined the group to come in some 8min down. Disappointed but had another go. Good win by Fonzy outsprinting a classy front group.
Drove then to Killarney to pull up for the night and met up with Morgan Fox who came down for a bit of craic. Morgan was one of the team's saviours in the middle of the year organising a lot of things but suffered serious injuries resulting from a crash in China. Still recovering from his 5 broken ribs and an IV/vascular problem caused by the incompetence of the Doctors in China, but was in fine spirits nonetheless.
Stage 5 Killarney – Cork "You say how many times up there?"
So the last stage dawned and we all enjoyed the later start and had a good lie in. Rode to the start and went to sign on only to be pulled aside by Chady to get introduced to some Australian tourists from, you guessed it Rockhampton; well Bouldercombe to be exact.
After another busy start Fred got away again but he had a bit of company this time. The bunch was getting propelled along by Pinarello and up front the group of 4 was reduced to 2 as some of the higher placed riders in the GC dropped back leaving Fred and Rabon from Columbia.
Arrived on the circuits and body took a shock. Went straight into the red and actually got dropped from the group but got back on with the help of Deano and Magnus Backstedt through the cars. Once back in the group I was feeling better and survived well enough over the last 3 'sadistic' circuits and subsequent 3 times up the hill they call St Patricks, plus the 3 other steep little pinches they decided to throw in.
Up front Fred was still plugging away but Rabon surged away from him up the final hill some 3km from home to win alone by 15secs. Back in the bunch Pinotti had attacked and up the final hill despite getting towards the front could not hold the pace. Came in 28th place on the day and 27th in the tour. Ciaran had an unlucky day puncturing early on the circuits and getting as neutral spare with only a 23 tooth on it. Still finished the day though a couple of more minutes down.
So that was it for the 2008 Tour of Ireland and felt that we all rode well. 4 out of the 5 stages we had riders up the road. Ciaran had 2 top 10's in the sprints and Fred was 2nd on the last stage and picked up the most aggressive riders prize for the tour along with high placings in both the KOM comp and Sprint comp. So we packed up, said a few "see you next time" and headed back up to Cong for a day of R&R and catching up with people before heading back to Belgium. Day was spent in Cong saying goodbyes to a few people, having lunch at the Lodge, packing and an evening spin on Lough Corrib in Daves boat. Did not enjoy the 1am bus trip from Galway to Dublin but had to be done.
Back in Belgium
So arrived back in Belgium with a bit of a cold I picked up on the trip and now facing somewhat of an uncertain future, but this is the same for many riders in many teams and in many different countries. PEZULA is/has folded as of the end of the Tour of Ireland and I am back in Belgium still racing the kermis races and keeping my form for a hopeful spot in the Sun Tour with the Jayco National Squad. It has been a tough year and to be honest have not enjoyed it as much I should be. After the team I had signed for folded in January then PEZULA folding now and suffering from financial problems since June it has been hard to keep the smile upon my face.
It is like what Rory Sutherland has stated many a times in his diary, "you ride well when you are happy". It is very simple stuff but often the one thing that gets overlooked. So that is the one thing I will be looking for in 2009. I have a couple of things going with positive responses, but nothing on paper.
So to all those in the team like David, Kieren, Martin, Willy, Derek, Morgan, Alex, Fred, the "Morale Police" Ciaran Power, staff members and in particular the financial backer who supported the team for the last couple of months, thanks again and thanks for the good times.
Has been one hell of a ride
Til next time we meet.
- Cycling News
August 21, 2008, 0:00 BST,
April 22, 2009, 20:08 BST
Hi all, Well, back now in Ireland braving the conditions and enjoying things. Believe last time I...
Well, back now in Ireland braving the conditions and enjoying things. Believe last time I wrote coming home from South Africa I had two races coming up. One race on St. Patricks day and then a four-day race over the long Easter weekend. After getting home from South Africa late on Saturday night decided to leave the race on Paddy's day to Ciarán and the other Irish lads and I soaked up the St. Patricks Day parade at nearby Ballinrobe and enjoyed not having to travel after being on the road for the last month. So recovered after the trip and got in some good days out on the roads around Co. Mayo. Met up with a few of the lads in the area for a couple of good days.
Ras Mumhan 4 Day
Motivation to do well in races can come and go as the season progresses. Some guys can be extremely motivated to race well from Febuary through to November in all kinds of races, big or small, and in all kinds of weather conditions. Other guys might need an external factor to gain some extra motivation to get the most out of their races. Ciarán, for example, was extremely motivated to race and race hard over the Easter weekend. He seems to be up for it nearly every race he enters, and on this weekend he had a point to prove to a couple of suits within Cycling Ireland in the lead up to the Olympic Games selection. As for the rest of us, we were all gaining an extra motivation to do well and to get a good result for PEZULA Racings first big race in Ireland.
Stage 1 Kilorglin – Kilorglin
Down into Co. Kerry we headed and I was warned by the lads that if I was having trouble understanding a few of the boys before, then wait til I headed down into this neck of the woods. We had a good team on the road for the long weekend, with Ciarán and myself and two young boys in Derek Burke and Willy Connolly. Morgan Fox was meant to be down but was still recovering from his sinus problems that started in South Africa.
First stage and I received my first dose of cold weather racing for the year. Oh so cold. Rain, rain and more rain. Ciarán, Derek and myself made the front group of nine, but I was struggling in the cold. Ciarán won the day but I got popped a few kilometres from home and shivered and gibbered my way in to 11th on the day. When I think back to all my first races in Europe for the year they have nearly all been in atrocious conditions and my body seems to react in exactly the same way.
Stage 2 Caherciveen – Caherciveen
Still cold but was happy to see the blue sky. We went into the stage with the same aggressive frame of mind. Ciarán got away early in the stage and Derek, Willy and myself were part of the large second group as the race headed towards Valentia Island. Ciarán, after dropping his breakaway companion up front, eventually got sent the wrong way whilst in the lead by a nice two minutes and the large group with Derek and myself caught him.
With 30 kilometres remaining, Derek and myself then set out to ride on the front. Heading up the last climb of the day we were still on the front and by the top of the climb the group was down to nine. After the descent I had a dig some four kilometres out and pulled a small group clear, including Ciarán. With 300 metres to go, Ciarán gave me the word to start up the sprint and with Ciarán sitting and swinging on my wheel I kept it going to the line and picked up my first win of the year. Ciarán came across in second and naturally kept the yellow, KOM and points jersey.
Stage 3 Waterville – Waterville and Stage 4 Kilorglin – Kilorglin
Next two days passed without a fuss as we continued to ride aggressively and also spent plenty of time on the front, keeping Ciarán out of trouble. Only obstacle I needed to overcome was the cricket pitch size of grass down the middle of the road on one of the descents. With grass in the middle of the road and gravel and water on the side there wasn't much hard, dry stuff to ride on. But no major dramas for the bunch, and it is those kind of roads that give certain races their own appeal or identity.
The final couple of days were topped off by Ciarán winning both stage three and four, to go along with his win on stage one and mine on stage two. A big hats off to the two young guys in the team, Willy and Derek, who showed a lot of maturity and sacrificed their own chances in the U/23 competition by spending plenty of time on the front early in the stages, keeping Ciarán and myself out of trouble.
Thanks to Declan and his family, Brian, Mark and Aiden for their help over the weekend. With the team's success the Owners/Managers of the team (Declan and Brian) had every right to be quietly pleased with how it all went. On the same weekend the other foreigners in the team (riders from Northern Ireland) won the Tour of North NE.
So that's the crack for now. Back home near Ballinrobe now for a week or so. Heading off to Belgium to spend some time with Glen Chadwick, Isabelle and Jade, and to tie up any loose end that have been left after my time spent there. I am sure that Glen will appreciate some company whilst he bangs his head against the wall, training in Belgium for two weeks as he gets ready for Tour of Georgia and I get ready for Shay Elliot and the FBD Ras.
Til next time we meet
One last thing. Congratulations to Dave who placed sixth in the World Championships in the Individual Pursuit.
- Cycling News
August 21, 2008, 0:00 BST,
April 22, 2009, 20:08 BST
Hi all, well, last time I wrote I was sitting patiently in the Heathrow airport waiting to see if...
August 21, 2008
well, last time I wrote I was sitting patiently in the Heathrow airport waiting to see if our Plan G, by this stage was going to work. Dublin airport had been shut down the day before due to radar malfunction and our flight to London and then China had been canceled then subsequently missed.
Our flight was then changed to the following day and phone calls were made to all the right people and we landed in Xining, China 8pm Friday evening, missing the prologue, but allowed to start the first stage the next morning. Was tired that night and eventually slept well, but the idea of racing the first stage of a 10-day Tour at 2200m with the finish of the stage being at 3300m, accompanied with jet lag and the fact we had been sitting around hotels and airport lobbies for almost three days before the race kept me uneasy.
So we turned up at breakfast the next day to a range of bewildered looks from the other riders. Met a few of the old friends in the form of Matt Rice and Rhys Pollock and headed back to my hotel room that I had just acquainted myself with in a matter of hours before and got ready.
I knew from previous editions (fourth time to Qinghai) how my body was going to react and how long it needed to feel anything like close to normal and that was usually five to seven days at this altitude. So with this in mind we all headed out on the first road stage from Xining to Qinghai Lake Hotel via 40km or so of climbing...
Well, first day down and we all got through. Apart from feeling completely void of any strength and some dizzy spells some five kilometres from the top of the climb I found my group along with Martin and Willy and got to the finish. Ciaran and Kieren had a better day and finished only three minutes down on the front and Morgan and Derek lived to fight another day. For the next couple of days I just continued to go through the motions and get to the line each day. Doing a little bit here and there, but nothing more should or could have been expected of us.
This is China after all
Got to the halfway point upon the arrival back in Xining starting to feel better but as is always the case in China not without some drama. Morgan had a real nasty crash on stage 3 and was taken to hospital where over the course of the week and upon arrival back in Ireland was discovered that he suffered three broken ribs and two cracked ones.
In the same crash Derek and Willy came down but were ok to continue. Never like to see anyone really hit the deck, but after all the work Morgan put in to get us all to China it was a real shame to see him go. I, too, had my moment in the sun when on the same fateful day as last year, over that same bloody hill, I...well, let's just say I left some shorts in China once again – we shall just leave it at that.
As the tour progressed I continued to get better along with the other guys in the team. Needed to get over the stomach problem I had the day before, so conserved the next day and tried to take it as easy as possible over the 40-kilometre climb up to 3800m. Then had the long 220km stage out and back from Xining, when after an active start from all the team the stage came down to a bunch sprint and we did some good work to get Ciaran up to a position where he pulled off 10th on the stage.
Unfortunately that day we lost Derek who had the same problem as me the other day and could not get back onto the bunch after his call of nature and had to pull out. We had lost three guys up to this point with Morgan due to his nasty fall, Willy the next day who finished just outside the time limit and then Burkey with illness. A few teams were worse off though and after our unfortunate start to the tour we were still going ok.
Just one good day
Three days to go and included two tough mountain stages and then the flat run around Xining on Sunday. Again was feeling ok and climbed pretty good on both Friday and Saturday's stage. The stages went off without a hitch for the team but we did have a little setback when we turned up to our hotel on Friday. Our hotel was deemed inappropriate for the four teams staying there and after consultation with the chief commissaire and organisers they promptly transferred us back to Xining and delayed the start the next day to allow us time to get back. Was a bit of an inconvenience but did get the chance to take in the scenery that we had just ridden through that day.
Last day was upon us, a 100km circuit race around the streets of Xining. Overall classification was pretty well secured for the top couple of places, so to my reckoning a break was going to get up the road. No need for the top contenders and teams to keep the race together to sprint for bonifications so the opportunity was there.
Tried once with a group but was brought back and then after a bit of a breather at the back I jumped across to another and we were giving a bit of a lead. Our lead never really grew past 40secs and with a lap and a half to go we were caught. Once again Ciaran had a good dig in the sprint getting across the line in eighth place and the rest of the lads all finished safely in the bunch and I managed to mark off another Tour of Qinghai Lake.
I said to myself at the start of the Tour, after all the disorganisation and our misfortune getting there, that all I wanted was one good day. Well, had to wait until the final day, but it finally did arrive and feel stronger and fresher now at the end of the tour then at the beginning.
Thanks to all the staff for the 10 days of support and to our translator Donna for putting up with us and helping us out. Thanks also to my old mates like Rhys (who was 13th on GC by the way) and Ricey for keeping my head screwed on and for getting me through the tough times that seem to raise their ugly heads when you are racing at 3500m. Speaking of Australian riders, Nic Sanderson was also there getting in some good training for the Rocky Cup on Wheels and for the "Tube" ride on the Fitzroy River. Will be informing the handicapper of the Rocky Cup on your current condition mate. All that was left was a trip back to Beijing, a spot of shopping and sight seeing and a long, long trip back to the wild west of Ireland.
In Gent (not Brugge)
After my time spent in Ireland it was time to move on. Spent the week training and tying up any loose ends before departing for Belgium on Sunday. My girlfriend Cally is there studying in Gent doing her PhD and at this time of year there is a good group of kermis races that I can compete in. Also, after spending some amount of time in Belgium over the years it does feel somewhat like home to me. Well a second home at least. Despite what some of my Irish team-mates have said, Belgium sits well with me and over the course of this year, I have missed the grey old place.
So I am typing this, sitting on the TGV on my way back from Lyon after just having competed in the Tour de l'Ain. Received the call last Tuesday night that I needed to get to Lyon by Saturday to race, so queue another couple of frantic/stressed days and off I went. It was good to be back racing again and racing again in good company. It was a tough tour and apart from the third day where I just couldn't seem to get out of my own way, I was content enough with how things went.
Thanks to all the staff (Miles, Mark and Simon) and the other lads who pulled everything together at the last minute once again and did what we could. A bit of rest now then some good training and another race in Belgium and all should be good for the Tour of Ireland starting on the 27th. That's the plan anyway.
Hope all is well with everyone, wherever you may be.
Til next time we meet.
ps Enjoyed following Chady and Anna Meares at the Olympics. Two Cycling Olympians in 2008 from Rockhampton (along with Anna Meares). Not bad going for a small CQ town.
- Cycling News
July 11, 2008, 0:00 BST,
April 21, 2009, 11:59 BST
Just thought you might like to know some of the dramas that PEZULA Racing is going through to get to...
July 11, 2008
Just thought you might like to know some of the dramas that PEZULA Racing is going through to get to the 2008 edition of the Tour of Qinghai Lake.
Started about three weeks ago when we learned that one of the sponsors and managers resigned from the team due to personal reasons and it was this person that was doing the organising for Qinghai. When he resigned from the team all the organisation fell apart and was left to many of the riders, in particular Morgan Fox and Dave O'Loughlin along with Dave McQuaid to do months of organising in a matter of weeks.
Our flights out there were delayed and we were all set to fly yesterday at the very latest (Wednesday) 'til radar failure at Dublin Airport grounded all flights. The teams mechanic for China is Mark Howard and he was able to fly out of his European home in Holland and get to Beijing to try and sort things out with the organisers there.
The prologue is Friday. We will be arriving in Xining Friday afternoon. Our only hope of racing is for the organisers to allow us to start the first stage without doing the 3.5km prologue. We are hoping they allow this but at the moment we have not received an official word.
So we are due to leave London tonight (Thursday) at 8pm crossing everything as we go.
It has been a busy/unsettled and uncertain time in the team's existence and we hope to get there and race and put this troubling time behind us.
- Cameron Jennings 08
Cameron Jennings has been racing for DFL-Cyclingnews-Litespeed for the past few years. After the team folded Jennings had a tough winter, but managed to bounce back and find a racing home with Irish outfit Pezula Racing for 2008. He will be looking forward to another good year of racing. Jennings will continue to write a diary for Cyclingnews and describe his experiences racing as a professional in all parts of the world. Australia UK USA